Saint Lucia Records over 1.2 Million Visitors In 2018

Harbor Club Hotel in Saint Lucia - Aeral view
Saint Lucia Records over 1.2 Million Visitors In 2018

Saint Lucia has recorded its best performance ever in visitor arrivals, as it welcomed 1,218,294 visitors in 2018. That number represents a 10.2% increase over 2017, which was also a record-setting year for the island.

Industry figures are up across the board led by the yachting sector with a 25.9% increase over last year’s numbers. Cruising is up by 13.6%; and stay-over arrivals have increased by 2.2%.

Type of Visitor YTD Dec 2016 YTD Dec 2017 YTD Dec 2018 Actual Change Percent Change
Cruise 587,749 669,217 760,306 91,089 13.6%
Yacht 56,268 50,197 63,596 13,399 26.7%
Stay-Over 347,872 386,127 394,780 8,653 2.2%
Total 991,889 1,105,541 1,218,682 113,141 10.2%

 

At a news conference to announce the latest figures, Tourism Minister, Honourable Dominic Fedee highlighted some of the steps that have been taken to reposition Saint Lucia’s tourism product to compete among the leading destinations in the world.

“We have a very small tourism marketing budget – around US$13 million – so we have to ensure that our efforts are targeted,” Hon. Fedee said. “We use a scientific approach to select the areas where we can reach the most visitors with the highest net-worth in our marketing campaigns. For us, these areas are, predominantly, in the north-eastern USA (the Tri-state and Boston), the south-east UK region of London and its surrounding suburbs and the Greater Toronto area in Canada.

The island continues to record strong numbers in its major generating markets of the United States and the UK, realizing growths of 4.1% and 4.9% respectively. Stayover arrivals from Canada dipped slightly (5.6%) due, in part, to the absence of service from Transat Tours and a reduction in frequency of WestJet flights.

The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) also focused on the Martinique market, which is the highest yielding in the Caribbean, and launched “Caribcation” in the summer of 2018 as a platform for Caribbean travelers, whose numbers grew by 1.6% over 2017.

Type of Visitor YTD Dec 2016 YTD Dec 2017 YTD Dec 2018 Actual Change Percent Change
USA 157,576 168,223 175,073 6,850 4.1%
UK 64,514 72,580 76,142 3,562 4.9%
Canada 37,772 42,578 40,213 (2,365) -5.6%
France 4,440 7,012 8,224 1,212 17.3%
Germany 2,272 2,848 2,132 (716) -25.1%
Martinique 27,654 30,302 28,805 (1,497) -4.9%
Trinidad 14,945 16,923 17,124 201 1.2%
Barbados 6,504 7,862 8,255 393 5%
Other 32,195 37,799 38,812 1,013 3%
Total 347,872 386,127 394,780 8,653 2.2%

 

A record, 760,306 cruise passengers visited the island during the period owing to an expansion of Berth #1 at Pointe Seraphine, which allowed Port Castries to accommodate Vista, Quantum and Freedom Class vessels.

Projections for 2019 look good, with British Airways pacing at 17% and Virgin Holidays at 27.9% over 2018. Condor has started an inter-airline agreement with LIAT on service from Frankfurt, Germany to Antigua and onto Saint Lucia from January 7 – March 31, 2019 and a number of other major airlines have expanded their service to the destination.

The SLTA is angling for greater growth in 2019, and will continue with its aggressive, targeted marketing campaigns to attract even more visitors to the destination.